A Visit to Burwell Fen

I had a free Sunday (away from shooting football) for the first time since before the season began, so used the time to visit Burwell Fen , one of my regular haunts when looking for Roe Deer and Barn Owls. After the craziness of covering a football match (the previous day I had been shooting Arsenal v Man City) it’s so nice to get out into the Cambridgeshire Fens. I didn’t see another soul for about 4 hours.

I’d not been to Burwell Fen for a good few months and the place looks completely different from when I was last there. Quite a lot of the foliage is now well grown and this makes spotting wildlife much more challenging, especially the Roe Deer.

Kestrel Hunting over Burwell Fen
Kestrel Hunting over Burwell Fen

It is always encouraging to see Kestrels and I happened to see two of them hunt quite successfully on a few occasions. Such wonderful birds, their unmistakable hover a joy to watch. Sadly they always seemed to be doing their hunting a bit away from me – the above picture is a serious crop on a 800mm Focal Length. Also by this stage the light was pretty unsavoury.  Still at times like these it’s great to take one’s eye away from the viewfinder and watch nature as it was intended.

Roe Deer Stays Hidden
Roe Deer Stays Hidden

As I said earlier spotting the wildlife was a little tricker with the growth of the foliage, but I had managed to spot this Roe Deer who then proceeded to sniff the air. It was well aware of me but as I settled into position it seemed to relax a little. It never really broke free of the foliage so I was looking for opportunities when the eye was clear of any obstructions, paying attention to ensure there was plenty of space in the composition to where the Roe was looking.

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker

A first (sighting) for me at the Fen – the Green Woodpecker. I had spotted something fly past my peripheral vision and settle in an old tree as I had been shooting the Roe Deer above. I carefully moved my lens around and waited patiently. After about a minute the Green Woodpecker made an appearance from behind the trunk.  I regularly hear these birds, but this was a first close-up sighting of one. It hung around for about 5 minutes.  I had been hoping it would make its way up the tree as there was the potential for a more pleasing composition but on this occasion it wasn’t to be.

Cormorant Drying Its Wings
Cormorant Drying Its Wings

Most of my morning was spent shooting four juvenile Cormorants. These really are spectacular birds and I absolutely love how they will dry their wings after being in the water. The light at this point of the morning was a mixed bag with plenty of clouds about, however when it was good – it really was pretty amazing.  I love to watch how good light (well actually any light) really can change a scene from almost one second to the next. I’m always saying to folks to study light. A good way to do this is to choose a regularly visited spot – I find somewhere you pass frequently (perhaps on your commute to work). Take a look at the scene (even take a picture with your Camera Phone) and then note down what the light was like. After a while you will have a collection of the same subject with different lighting. You may be surprised how different that same subject can look.  A valuable lesson and on days like yesterday it really does pay of to be patient with the light.  I managed to get some pleasing images of the four birds interacting – but these will have to wait for another day.

Gitzo Tripod - GT5542LS
Gitzo Tripod – GT5542LS

Oh and this was my first proper outing with my new Tripod – the Gitzo GT5542LS. I have to say I am blown away by the steadiness this beast affords, even when extended to eye level. I also love how low down you can get to the ground – this is the mid-way point to the ground and even that gives some very pleasing results for water based animals – almost giving the viewer the feeling that they are swimming with them.  All I needed in the above shot was a Water Vole … sadly not on this occasion.

So a very pleasing morning out in Burwell Fen. Certainly won’t leave it so long next time.

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